You Know Better: Issue Nine

December 2015. These days I can't quite get a sense of things. I've spent the last ten months going through the process of applying to seven MFA programs in poetry. I don't know if I will be accepted at any of the schools I applied to, or if I will be moving out of the city, or how much will be changing in the next two to three years of my life. I'm perched on the edge of something, having worked at it for so long, without knowing which direction to look toward. And it's kind of terrible, and it's kind of wonderful.

These days all I want to do is watch old movies - mostly black and white, starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Lana Turner, Marlon Brando. I find it comforting to immerse myself in these stories I've heard so much about but never seen. Casablanca. Roman Holiday. The Postman Always Rings Twice. A Streetcar Named Desire. Something about it seems simpler, although of course it wasn't for the people who lived then, who made their art then. It was just a different time.

Read on for a taste of this issue. To get a copy, stop by Bluestockings or email isabel at isabelsparkle dot com.


My relationship with Broadway Junction is something I think about a lot.

When I first lived in Bushwick in 2001, I remember going through that station on the night of September 11th, when I transferred from the L train to the A on my way to the apartment of a girl I'd never met for some sort of feminist potluck dinner I'd been invited to. I'd spent all day with my roommate and best friend, sitting on my bed and listening to the radio, and I knew that everything was bad and that only the cops and firefighters had to go to work, but it hadn't occurred to me that everybody would be cancelling their social plans too. Nine days earlier I had moved to New York, bent on making friends and causing trouble. When I got to the host's apartment, she was surprised to see me because nobody else had showed up. But she was polite enough to invite me in and give me a glass of cranberry juice. We exchanged small talk, commiserated about the terrible events of the day, and after a reasonable amount of time I left. I never saw her again.

These days I do that same transfer but backwards, on my way home from my massage office four nights a week. I live in Bushwick again, just a few blocks from that first apartment, though almost everything else about my life has changed. I get off the C and walk toward the L, up four flights of stairs plus an escalator and an overpass. It's a long transfer, with lots of people yelling about Jesus along the way. The best place to wait for the L is the very back of the platform, because boarding the train there drops me closest to the exit near my house. The platform at that end is high up in the air. Below it, the tracks of the L and J trains stretch out in every direction toward the horizon, from Manhattan and Queens via Brooklyn, coming and going at all hours. It feels suspended, precarious, exposed. No matter what time of year it is; whether I'm shivering, or sweating, or tipping my face to the breeze and breathing in the open air after a tiring day - the feeling is always the same. It feels like the edge of the world. Like anything can happen, like I can see forever, like the city is the only thing that matters.